How To Write a Tribute or Eulogy
Writing a tribute to someone you love and/or admire can be an emotional and rewarding experience. Doing it while they’re still alive makes it more meaningful.
When writing a eulogy, it is an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of the life lived, and to remind survivors of the memories and legacy left behind.
These are great resources with good information:
- A Labor of Love: How to Write a Eulogy
- How To Write a Eulogy When You Have No Time: Honor your loved one with words from your heart.
- Eulogy Writing: How to Write a Loving & Memorable Eulogy
- Celebrating a Life: Planning Memorial Services and Other Creative Remembrances
- Remembrances and Celebrations: A Book of Eulogies, Elegies, Letters, and Epitaphs
- My Deepest Sympathies...: Meaningful Sentiments for Condolence Notes and Conversations, Plus a Guide to Eulogies
simple three step process:
put fingers to keyboard (or pen to paper)
open your heart
let love pour out
1) Put fingers to keyboard
Not much explanation needed here - pretty straightforward really.
2) Open your heart
This SHOULD BE fairly simple too, unless you're out of practice... Here's what works for us.... If you have a picture or video of the person you’re going to write about, it can be helpful to look at it for inspiration. Think about all their wonderful qualities, recall the things you love and admire about them.
If it’s someone you know (or knew) personally, close your eyes for a moment and imagine you’re together. How do you feel? What is it/was it like to be with them? Experience their presence in your heart and thoughts, then let all your positive emotions flow through your fingertips.
3) Let love pour out
Hmmmm.... if this was easy, maybe we wouldn't have so much conflict in the world.... Anyway, when it comes to tributes, as you type/write, resist the temptation to edit. Just let the words spill out. It doesn’t matter if it feels like the thoughts and/or words are jumbled or mixed up. Write freely and openly. Write like you talk and speak directly from your heart. Don't worry about style, form or repetition.
Transfer all your feelings and thoughts about the person from your heart and mind to your computer/paper. It’s easiest to do that when you free yourself from constraints and just let the words flow. You can shape, reorganize, and cut later.
The hardest part is the start
Every writer suffers from writer’s block at some time, don’t worry if you do too. It’s normal. The important thing is to start writing. Write anything. Anything at all. And then just keep writing until the words stop coming, until your well of thoughts and emotions runs dry.
Write your tribute in a separate word program and save it on your computer. Let the first draft sit for a day or two, then go back to it. Read it, review it, make adjustments. There are some good examples of eulogies so read them and see if they spark something. Cut, paste, add, delete. Let it sit for awhile, then come back to it again with fresh eyes. Cut, paste, add, delete a second time. When you’re ready, submit!
Tips to get you going:
1) Start with one word that describes the person, then expand on it...
The first and the only time I’ve seen you with Nolan was coincidentally, the last time I saw you. You were a new mom, he was a tiny baby – was it five or six years ago now…?
But I don’t have to see you together to know you are the kind of mom that every kid would want: a wellspring of playfulness, openness and laughter. You see the good in everybody and everything. You practice wonder and joy as a matter of routine. And you LOVE to have fun!
2) Describe them – what distinctive features do they have? Eyes? Hair? Smile?
Your hair is in your trademark shoulder-length bob. It looks darker than it is, because the photo is black and white. But I know it’s blond, shiny and full, because that’s the way it always is. Your nails are beautifully manicured, I wonder what colour they were?
Your face is joyful, lit up by your lovely smile and your sparkling eyes. You are so beautiful. So expressive. So natural. So perfectly Laurie.
3) Think about how they do/did things: laugh, drive, walk, make breakfast….
You’re one helluva’ good communicator – I admire the way you describe things with such clarity, style and attention to detail. Though our friendship would come later, you were a super role model for me in those good ole’ Baker Lovick days – the epitome of professionalism tiptoeing through agency politics with such aplomb.I often wondered if I would ever be so skilled and respected. All I know is that I’m still playing catch up!
4) Share a story about something nice they did/do for you.
Jane, whenever I think about you, I also think about Fireside Al and The Story of the Little Match Girl (we both love the CBC), Greece (your favourite holiday destination) and the fact that you have generously and graciously hosted several TGIFs when I’ve come back to Calgary over the years – it’s fun to sit on your back deck and catch up with the gang over too much wine and too much food.
5) Tell the impact they’ve had on you, your family, your community, the world.
I didn't know Katherine Martin personally. I never met her, or even spoke to her. But in reading her words I recognized in her a kindred spirit. She was, in many ways, the inspiration for this website.Two of her books, Women of Courage and Women of Spirit, were the sparks that reignited my passion for telling women’s stories.
Read other tributes on AWR to get more ideas.
Your tribute doesn't have to be a masterpiece of modern literature.
Simple words spoken from the heart create lasting impact.
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